Parsley Leaves Turning Yellow (7 Natural Reasons with Easy Fixes)

Parsley is a famous flowering plant from the family Apiaceae that is widely grown as a herb and vegetable. But the problem we all face is our parsley leaves turning yellow.

The common reason for this is because of rot in the root or crown area due to saturated soil or it can also turn yellow because of the absence of water. 

Parsley Leaves Turning Yellow
Yellow Parsley Leaves

Parsley Leaves Turning Yellow: Reasons and Solutions

It is a general characteristic of parsley leaves to turn yellow that happens quite often. There are several reasons for the yellow color of parsley leaves. However, let’s make it very clear that though it turns yellow after a significant time spell, it is still edible.

The most common reason is root cot or crown cot due to the accumulation of saturated soils.

It also turns yellow as a sign of stress because of the absence of enough water. Another reason for its turning yellow is the infestation of aphids or spider mites. And there are easy processes to prevent this which will be discussed further. 

Nutrient Imbalance

It is essential to identify the issues in parsley leaves; trust me, not all issues are related to insects or other diseases. Nutrient imbalance is another critical reason for the parsley leaves turning yellow. 

  • Look for discoloration or distortion on the leaves and in the stem area.
  • Foliage discoloration and stunted plants are caused because of extremely wet soil or poorly drained or too much-filled root growth.
  • Over usage of fertilizer is also extremely harmful to parsley leaves. 

As mentioned earlier, parsley leaves turning yellow is not new and is very common. The nutrient imbalance that causes this is known as molybdenum deficiency which is more of a magnesium deficiency in parsley leaves. This magnesium deficiency generally occurs at the beginning of the year when no proper location is present.

Nutrient Imbalance of Parsley Leaves
Nutrient Imbalance of Parsley Leaves

During summer, there is another deficiency in parsley leaves that makes the leaves turn yellow: nitrogen deficiency in the plants. Moreover, there are rare instances when the leaves turn red. This happens due to stress on the plants that are caused due to carrot fly infestation, nematodes, and even waterlogging. 

The nutrients that the parsley leaves need to remain healthy are vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A, and folate. Hence for the cultivation of parsley leaves, it is mandatory to maintain nutrient concentration in the plants. Moreover, plant them at a distance of 6 to 8 inches apart in an area full of sun rays, and the soil is rich in nutrients and properly drained with a pH level of 5.5 to 6.7.

The soil should be mixed with aged compost and rich organic matter. These herbs love constant moisture; hence the soil needs to be inspected thoroughly and water whenever the upper part is dry. It is a great initiative to support prolific leaf production and feed them with water-soluble plant food. 

How to Solve Nutrients Imbalance?

Solving the nutrient imbalance in parsley leaves is very important to prevent them from turning yellow. Molybdenum deficiency or magnesium deficiency occurring in parsley plants can be solved by rubbing lime regularly on the plants. This provides a long-term remedy.

But along with this, the soil should also be inspected properly, and the nutrients need to be checked. It is also important to prune the parsley leaves regularly, or they will grow longer and tend to droop early. Watering the plants deeply is very important for at least a week to ensure that the roots contain enough moisture to grow properly and remain healthy. 

Fungal Infection

Septoria leaf spot is a fungal infection that occurs only in parsley plants. These are fungal infections that affect the growth of the parsley leaves. Septoria leaf spot also known as Septoria Petroselini is a fungal infection occurring in parsley plants that shows small, sunken, angular brown spots. Red-brown margins usually surround these spots on the leaves.

With the gradual progress of the disease, the center of the spots turns grey-brown. On the surface of the lesions, tiny black fungal fruiting bodies also known as pycnidia are visible. These lesions are usually found in the petioles of the plant.

This fungal infection is caused due to infested seeds, the spores of which survive; hence, the infection remains.

This also occurs due to cross-infection from neighboring crops. This fungal infection is spread widely in wet conditions and in a location where there is humid condition and mild temperature. 

Fungal Infection of Parsley Leaves
Fungal Infection of Parsley Leaves

Apart from the above-discussed fungal disease, another fungal leaf spot disease on parsley plants is Stemphylium Vesicarium. Recently they have been found in parsley leaves as they are quite common in garlic, leek, onion, and alfalfa plants. They are identified as small leaf spots that are usually circular or oval and generally yellow.

With time it becomes large and turns to dark brown color with a yellow corona. When this fungal disease hits high concentration, the leaves’ spots merge, leading the yellow foliage to dry, and eventually, the plant dries.

The cause of this disease is also from infected seeds that are usually spread from splashing water from overhead irrigation or rainfall over the plants. 

How to Treat Parsley Fungal Infection?

It is very important to treat the fungal infections occurring on the parsley plants, or they will wither and eventually die. Since both the above-mentioned fungal diseases occur from infected seeds, it is extremely important to plant disease-resistant seeds.

Seeds that have been treated to resist seed-borne diseases can also be planted in order to avoid parsley fungal infection. Overhead irrigation needs to be strictly avoided; drip irrigation should be used instead.

In the locations where these fungal diseases are founded, their cultivation should be shifted to non-host crops for 4 years. Sufficient air circulation between the plants by maintaining a minimum space of 6 to 8 inches in between. Proper garden sanitation should be applied, and crop residues should be completely dug off. And finally, the plants need to be dried from rain or dew. 

Poor or Slow Draining Soil

The most common symptom of parsley leaves turning yellow is poor or slow-draining soils. Because of this poor soil condition, the leaves turn yellow, with drooping or wilting stems. It happens because the soil is overly wet. This leads the ground to be boggy and over-watering plants.

This situation also happens when the parsley plant is planted in a pot that does not have proper drainage holes in the base of the pot. The parsley leaves bloom well in moist soil that has good drainage and the presence of organic matter. Hence with saturated soil, the parsley plants are more prone to fungal diseases. 

Poor or Slow Draining Soil
Poor or Slow Draining Soil

How to Solve This Problem?

It is very important to save yellow parsley plants from saturated soil to save them. The process is quite easy. The watering of the soil should be scaled back. The drainage system of the water from the soil should be improved by transferring the plants to a well-maintained pot or a container with good drainage holes. It is strictly advised not to use a saucer or a drip tray placed underneath the pot or the container. 

Insects and Pest

Apart from the soil condition, there are also aphids and spider mites that are the cause of the yellow color of the parsley leaves. This causes the leaves to turn yellow and the stems to droop. Aphids are small green insects that attack several plants present in the garden, resulting in distorted growth of the parsley plants.

The yellow spots on the parsley leaves are caused due to the infestation of spider mites which, if left untreated, would lead the parsley plant to stunt or even result in stunted growth. They usually attack those plants that are low in nutrition, have a low presence of water, and overuse fertilizers. 

Insects and Pest on Parsley Leaves
Insects and Pest on Parsley Leaves

How to Solve This Problem?

To avoid the infestation of aphids and spider mites, proper care must be taken of the parsley plants. The stems and the leaves of the parsley plants need to be pruned regularly. They are attacked by aphids. This way the entire plant is saved and is free from further infestation.

The parsley plants should be planted in partial to full sunlight in order to prevent spider mites and the soil should be mixed with rich compost. In case of a serious attack only, use organic insecticidal soap that should be sprayed on the leaves early morning.

Other General Maintenance Problems

Overwatering or Underwatering and How to Solve?

Parsley plants need proper maintenance, and overwatering or underwatering them would lead to parsley leaves turning yellow. For that, the soil must be dug well for proper drainage. When the top surface is dry, the plant should be watered once a week.

Lack of Sunlight or Too Much Sun, How to Solve?

Parsley plants should be planted in either partial or full sunlight to grow properly without any issues. Proper sunlight solves the issue of poor soil and also prevents the attack of aphids and spider mites. But lack of sunlight would lead the plant to wither and turn yellow.

Root Rot What Causes It and How To Solve?

The most common reason for parsley leaves turning yellow is root rot on the plants. This is caused due to the presence of saturated soil. This is also caused if the plant is stressed due to the absence of water.

Why May light Cause Parsley Leaves Turn Yellow?

Though parsley plants grow extremely well in the presence of sunlight, when placed in a pot or a container, it should be taken care that the pot is not overheated. If the pot where the parsley is planted is heated too much in the sunlight, it accelerates evaporation.

The moisture dries fast, resulting in the leaves yellow colour. So to light not become the cause of damage to parsley leaves, plastic or metal pots should be avoided as they conduct more heat than clay or ceramic pots. 

Why May Transplant Shock Cause Parsley Leaves Turn Yellow?

Transplant shock is another cause of parsley leaves turning yellow. It leads to the drooping of the plants due to stress. This happens because there is a difference in the condition of light, soil, or water from where it was grown to where it is transplanted. In certain instances, the roots cannot adjust to the different conditions of nutrients, soil, structure, and drainage, resulting in the yellowing of the leaves.

Why May Transplant Shock Cause Parsley Leaves Turn Yellow
Why May Transplant Shock Cause Parsley Leaves Turn Yellow?

The plant is highly prone to drought after transplant. To prevent transplant shock, the plant should be watered at an interval of 2 to 3 days. The pot should contain a proper mix of rich compost and leaf mold as they are full of nutrients and helps in retaining moisture. 

Parsley Plant Growing and Maintenance Tips

There are many tips for growing and maintaining parsley plants.

  • Proper use of sunlight
  • Disease-resistant seed or seed that is treated to resist seed-borne diseases should be planted.
  • Proper drainage of soil should be used.
  • Enough nutrients should be present in the soil.
  • Rich compost should be mixed in the soil.
  • Plants should be watered at regular intervals and pruned as well. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Should I cut off yellow parsley leaves?

Yellow parsley leaves should be cut or pruned to prevent further yellow coloring of leaves. However, the cause should be identified first.

Can I eat yellow parsley leaves?

Yellow parsley leaves are always edible and don’t need to be thrown away until and unless it is affected by insects.

What is the best fertilizer for parsley?

The best fertilizer for parsley to thrive well is a mixture of a medium quantity of nitrogen and potassium with little phosphorous.


Parsley is an amazing plant that is used as a vegetable and also as an aromatic herb that has amazing health benefits and tastes great. However, it is often encountered that the parsley plants often turn yellow for many reasons.

With the help of this article, several reasons for the yellowing of parsley leaves are discussed in detail, along with the ways to solve them. Hence, take good care of parsley leaves while growing them and enjoy their amazing aroma and flavor. 

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